If you have teenagers in the house, or pre-teens who are on their way to adolescence, this blog is for you. And if you have teens in trouble with substance abuse, or know of any who are, keep reading, because you’re already involved.
Addiction experts and social scientists at Columbia University have reported that substance use and abuse by America’s teenagers should not be taken lightly. Rather than treating it as a harmless phase that all teens go through, it should be at the top of our list of adverse social situations.
The massive, 420-page report from the University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASAColumbia), says it all by its title: Adolescent Substance Use: America’s #1 Public Health Problem. Smoking, drinking, using illegal drugs and misusing prescription drugs “is by any measure a public health problem of epidemic proportion, presenting clear and present danger to millions of America’s teenagers and severe and expensive long-range consequences for our entire population,” the scientists said. Ignoring or minimizing the problem not only adds to the soaring medical costs of substance use and addiction, it puts the future of America at risk, both socially and economically.
The report details the messages that pervade American culture that promote teen substance abuse, and then it examines the results:
- Widespread impairment of physical and mental health among millions of teenagers because of risky substance abuse
- Countless injuries, suicides, homicides and other fatalities related to substance use
- Risky driving, risky sex, and drug-related violence and crime
- The tragic losses of educational and life opportunities for tens of thousands of substance injured and addicted young people
- The terrible impact on families of the loss of sons and daughters to addiction
- The immeasurably negative loss to America’s vital work force
Adolescent substance use is also responsible for “the largest preventable and most costly public health problem in America today” says CASAColumbia. Teen substance abuse itself is costly, but research has shown that almost all adult substance abuse and addiction begins in adolescence:
- Annual costs directly stemming from teen substance use include $68 billion for underage drinking and $14.4 billion for substance-related juvenile justice programs.
- Annual costs to federal, state and local governments for all abuse and addiction are at least $468 billion a year – roughly $1,500 for every single person in America every year – and most of the problems originated in adolescence.
This comprehensive report drew from sources all across the country, including:
- National surveys of 1,000 high school students, 1,000 parents of high school students and 500 school personnel (including teachers, principals, counselors and coaches)
- Analyses of 7 national data sets
- Interviews with approximately 50 leading experts in a broad range of fields related to this report
- 5 focus groups with students, parents and school personnel
- A review of more than 2,000 publications
CASAColumbia say that educators, health professionals and parents need to become more aware of the seriousness of the situation. Everyone needs to learn how to identify at-risk teens, while the health care system needs to provide more and better treatment for kids already in trouble with substance use and abuse. The report is aimed at everyone who has a stake in our future, and is in a position to do something about it:
- Health Care Professionals
- Educators and Community Organizations
The report has a comprehensive list of recommendations for each category of involvement. If you’re in this list, you’re involved. You can download your own copy of the report here.
Here at Novus, we couldn’t agree more with the CASAColumbia recommendations. Novus isn’t an adolescent treatment center, but we do deal with dependence and addiction on a daily basis. And it’s vital to understand that so many adult patients can trace the beginnings of their substance use problems back to their teenage years.
Picture credit: CASAColumbia
Researchers from Wayne State University and Indiana University compared the effects of both types of approach, using volunteers who were both substance dependent and non-substance dependent. The results, published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, clearly showed that substance-dependent people respond more rationally to positive persuasion to avoid risky decisions than they do to negatively framed messages.
The researchers tested both groups of volunteers using the Iowa Gambling Task, which measures the ability to resist making unusually risky decisions while playing a card game.
When the risks involved were posed to the substance-dependent participants in negative terms, their ability to make rational decisions and control risky behavior was markedly reduced. But when positive persuasion was used that emphasized the benefits of avoiding risky decisions, the dependent group made obviously more rational decisions to control risky behavior.
Meanwhile, the non-dependent volunteers made rational, less risky decisions regardless of whether the messages were framed positive or negatively.
To back it all up with physical science, MRI brain scans were taken during the experiments of the areas of the brain which are normally active when people are consciously deciding to limit irrational or impulsive behavior.
When negative persuasion was used, the scans of the dependent individuals revealed a marked reduction of activity, which matched the actual risky decisions the participants were making. But with the positive persuasion, their scans showed normal, rational activity, right while they were making sensible, more rational decisions.
Again, supporting the actual decisions taken during the ‘game,’ the non-dependent group’s brain scans showed completely normal activity whether the messages were couched in positive or negative terms.
Given the life-style that most substance-dependent and addicted people have to endure just to survive, it makes sense that they’re plenty familiar already with all the negative stuff about their addiction – heck, they’re living it every day. And they’ve developed an efficient survival system of their own to deal with all the bad decisions they know they’re making.
Like the airbag in your car, this system is always poised and ready to instantly deploy and absorb any incoming negative energy. Every time you hammer away at them about how bad and wrong they are, how risky and dangerous and harmful their decisions are, how sad and terrible they‘re making everyone else feel – POW! That mental airbag pops open and shields them from the negativity. They’ll say, do or promise anything, and appear any way they think you want them to appear. But it’s just air – it’s the airbag talking, trying to avoid more incoming negativity.
This research proves what the successful addiction treatment experts have been saying for a long time: to persuade someone who’s dependent on drugs or alcohol to stop taking risks with their life, it’s better to be up-beat and positive about the benefits of sobriety. Stressing all the bad things about dependence and addiction just drives the addict further down.
Addicted people are still people, nevertheless. They need to be treated with the same respect and care you’d give anyone – especially someone in trouble. They need to see a hand reaching out to help, not raised to hit. Like everyone else in the world, addicts respond to positive messages; it’s the negative ones they’ve learned, the hard way, not to deal with.
Here at Novus, we don’t just treat substance dependence and then send people on their way. We treat people, helping them find the positive in their lives and eliminate the negative, under their own control. And we often make lifelong friends, too. Don’t hesitate to call Novus if you or someone you love has an addiction problem. We’re always here to help.
Suboxone is one of the pharmaceutical industry’s “blockbuster” drugs that most of America has never heard of. Suboxone has been making $billions ($1.7 billion last year alone) for its maker, Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals of the U.K. Even though it makes more money than Viagra and Adderall, it’s virtually unknown to the general public.
But Suboxone is the trade name for a compound of two generic drugs, buprenorphine and naloxone. These drugs are also money makers in the drug industry. Another brand, Subutex, is just buprenorphine by itself. And if you were to ask around about buprenorphine and naloxone, you’d probably get that same blank, questioning stare from most people.
So why haven’t most Americans heard about Suboxone? Or buprenorphine or naloxone for that matter? And why should we want know about these drugs anyway?
The first question is easy. We haven’t heard about them because they’re used mostly in the specialized treatment of opioid addiction. Buprenorphine was approved by the FDA in 2002 to treat opioid addiction. Buprenorphine is an opioid, but its narcotic and euphoric effects are less than heroin or opioid painkillers. Like methadone, it is prescribed to prevent withdrawal symptoms, while the addict comes off the stronger drug and works towards recovery.
That’s why buprenorphine and naloxone and compounds of the two like Suboxone are well known to addicts. And they’re an integral part of daily life for the addiction treatment community, as well as for law enforcement. If you’re not an opioid addict, or a treatment specialist, or in law enforcement, chances are you won’t hear about them.
Why should we care about these drugs?
The second question, however, is more important: Why should we want to know about them?
That answer is of deadly importance. Suboxone and buprenorphine on its own are being widely abused. Buprenorphine has become a serious player in the illicit narcotic drug underworld. According to the DEA’s national drug testing labs, buprenorphine is in the top three or four most-reported prescription narcotics confiscated by law enforcement across the country. (This includes combination drugs like Suboxone.)
In the Northeastern United States, where oxycodone and OxyContin are miles ahead of all the others, buprenorphine is number two – even ahead of hydrocodone (the biggest killer here in Florida). In the South, buprenorphine is number three and in the Midwest and West it’s number four.
A recent article in the New York Times told the story about a 38-year-old carpenter and rock musician who credits buprenorphine (Suboxone) with his recovery from opioid addiction and an attempted suicide. But the article also detailed the overdose death of a 20-year-old who tried buprenorphine with some friends one night, fell asleep, and never woke up. The young man who provided the buprenorphine is serving a 71-month sentence in a federal prison.
Another article, this one in Louisville’s The Courier-Journal, says prescriptions for Suboxone and its generic equivalents have soared 63 percent in Kentucky in the past year. The problem is that a huge number of those prescriptions are being diverted to the streets. “Suboxone abuse is huge,” a treatment official told the paper.
It’s a similar story across the country. That’s why everyone needs to know more about these drugs. If we see a Suboxone package or buprenorphine bottle where it shouldn’t be – that is, not in a treatment setting – we’ll know to take a closer look at what’s going on with that family member or friend. Suboxone and buprenorphine are not safe drugs to play around with. Not just weekend drug dabblers, but even serious opiate addicts are suffering from Suboxone and buprenorphine abuse.
Naloxone is important because it saves lives
Naloxone, the other Suboxone component, saves lives every day. It interrupts the deadly effects of an opioid overdose, like bringing the dead back to life. It’s in all hospital ERs, it’s carried by emergency responders, and in some cities and states, it’s available to the public.
If there’s an opioid addict or abuser in your family, you must know that the risk of opioid overdose is ever-present. Having a naloxone applicator or syringe handy could save that person’s life.
But an even better idea is to get that friend or family member into recovery before any overdose occurs. Why risk a life when you don’t have to? And if you or someone you love is already in trouble with Suboxone or buprenorphine, Novus is the place to call, because we are experts in handling buprenorphine and suboxone withdrawal and detox.
Call Novus today. We’re here to help.
New data from Canada suggests that dentists are playing a pretty big part in the prescription opioid addiction crisis in Canada, and possibly here in the U.S. too.
A recent study of opioid prescriptions in Canada’s province of Ontario has found that dentists prescribe as many as 40 percent of all opioid painkillers prescribed in the province.
And another study, this one into opioid addiction and deaths in Ontario, has found that prescription opioid overdoses are responsible for one in every eight deaths among young adults between 25 and 34. The researchers say they’ve been looking closely into the “dental connection” for some time, and it does exist.
Health officials have concluded that the misuse of opioids from dental prescriptions is so serious, a new opioid prescribing policy for Ontario dentists is needed. The new guidelines will be first of its kind in Canada for dentists, and will call for significant reductions in opioid prescriptions by dentists.
Current dental practices include powerful opioids like OxyContin for dental surgery. But pain experts say over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol or Advil will do the job in most cases without risking dependence, abuse and overdose. And dentists frequently prescribe many more painkiller pills than will be needed “just in case”.
In special cases when opioids are called for, dentists must stop handing out their usual large prescriptions with extra pills “just in case” – far beyond what’s really required – and prescribe far fewer pills – lower doses over a shorter period of time – and only after patients have been screened for opioid suitability.
Dr. David Mock, dean emeritus of the University of Toronto faculty of dentistry, said that only in “a minority of situations is an opioid required for any dental procedure.”
The author of the study on opioid addiction and death said the recreational use of opioids is increasing among high school and university students. And some of that is sustained by young patients taking their leftover pills to school or to parties.
Deaths from opioids have risen rapidly in Canada in recent years – a nearly 350 percent increase between 1991 and 2010, from 12.2 per million to 41.6 per million. These figures are not quite as high as the increases in some states here in the U.S., but it’s clear that opioid abuses and overdoses are soaring all over the continent.
Terence Young, a member of Canada’s Parliament (roughly equivalent to a member of Congress) said teenagers in his district became addicted to painkillers after receiving OxyContin from their dentists after having their wisdom teeth removed. He told a government hearing that the kids are now undergoing methadone treatment. “Is there any way to get a message to dentists that this is an overuse of medication? For getting wisdom teeth out,” Young said, “all you need is Tylenol, and it’s foolish and irresponsible to give young people such powerful painkillers when they’re getting their wisdom teeth out.”
Dr. Craig Landau, the Canadian head of Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, appeared before the Canadian government’s Health Committee last year on a different matter. But Mr. Young asked, “Should dentists be prescribing OxyContin to young people getting their wisdom teeth out?” And Dr. Landau replied with an unqualified, “No.”
If you or any family or friends are heading for dental surgery, you might want to keep an eye open for any opioid prescriptions. These are powerful drugs, and can be highly addictive among younger people.
OxyContin and its active ingredient, oxycodone, have a long and significant history here at Novus Medical Detox Center. We’ve pioneered new OxyContin and oxycodone detox medical protocols that have proven to help patients end their dependencies more comfortably than ever. Don’t hesitate to call Novus any time. We will help you get your questions about opioid withdrawal and detox answered clearly and concisely.
A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says an unconstitutional Massachusetts statute is allowing hundreds of women to be treated like criminals because they are addicted to drugs or alcohol, not because they have committed any crime, or even been charged with one.
The ACLU has filed a lawsuit to end the practice of committing drug- and alcohol-addicted women to the state correctional facility in Framingham. ACLU staff attorney Jessie Rossman told the State House News Service that under a statute known as Section 35, certain authorities and family members can petition a district court to “civilly commit” someone whose drug or alcohol use is considered a danger to themselves or others.
And when the state treatment facilities are full, the “prisoners” are committed to a correctional facility (a prison) where they are expected to detox under the most primitive of conditions. Although this lawsuit is about women, both men and women are subject to the statute. Women are sent to a prison in Framingham, and “sent to medical unit for detox – what Department of Corrections calls detox – which essentially is just you being given a bucket,” Rossman said. Men are sent to a prison in Bridgewater.
“They can get over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol and Tums, but they are not treated with the kinds of medications commonly used in detox facilities such as methadone, Suboxone or Vivitrol as part of treatment,” Rossman told the News Service. “As Gov. Deval Patrick has acknowledged, we are actually the only state that incarcerates people who are suffering from addiction to drugs and alcohol who haven’t been convicted of a crime. And imprisoning people because they have a disease is wrong, and it’s also unconstitutional.”
The ACLU attorney Rossman said the women end up sharing facilities with “pretrial detainees”– women awaiting trial for actual felonies – and that this leaves them “confused and traumatized by the experience.” Rossmore added that they don’t even have the freedoms afforded the inmates. “They do not have access to the library. They do not have access to the chapel. They do not have access to any of the treatments, the drug programming treatment,” Rossman said. Six days a week, the women are granted two and a half hours to spend in “essentially an empty gravel pit they call the kennel” – a barren yard surrounded by a tarp-covered chain-link fence.
“They are issued a prison uniform. They are issued a number, and then they are subject to disciplinary sanctions,” said Rossman. “They are treated like prisoners because they are in prison.”
Rossmore pointed out how “counterproductive” such an experience is to treating addiction. According to Department of Correction numbers, hundreds of women have been civilly committed over the past three years, and although the average confinement is two weeks, the commitment sometimes lasts as long as 90 days.
Heather Nichols, spokeswoman for Gov. Patrick, said the 2015 state budget includes additional funds to “significantly increase the number of treatment beds within the Department of Public Health available for individuals who are civilly committed and others requiring substance abuse treatment.” The administration said there currently are 13 women confined at Framingham under Section 35, and that the proposed budget will accommodate that number.
How would you feel about living in a state where your family members can petition a court to have you sent to prison, like a criminal, because you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol?
Here’s a much better idea, even if you live in Massachusetts. Novus Medical Detox Center helps a lot of people from the Northeast with drug and alcohol problems. Come down to sunny Florida and experience the Novus difference – the most effective and most comfortable medically-supervised treatment program anywhere. Call us any time – we’re always here to help.
Categories: Medical Drug Detox
Here’s some very good news for people dependent on methadone – especially long-term pain management or methadone replacement patients on higher daily dosages searching for a detox clinic that will accept them.
Novus Medical Detox Center now accepts all patients, regardless of their daily methadone dosages. The results are uniformly positive, even for those trapped by those on higher dosages.
The best news of all – not only will we accept them, but methadone detox at Novus is also faster, and far more comfortable, than patients dreamed possible.
A huge problem faced by many methadone users is trying to find a detox clinic that can handle their higher daily dosages. Many have tried to “wean” or step down their dosages to get off the drug and either failed to make it all the way, or if they did, soon reverted to using again.
As any methadone dependent person who’s tried to detox will attest, methadone withdrawal is usually even more difficult than withdrawing from heroin or other opiates and opioids. This is especially true for those whose daily doses have crept above 100mg, 200mg or even 300mg and higher. And over the years, the run-of-the-mill detox clinics across the country have given up trying to help such people because of the medical complications associated with higher dosage methadone withdrawal.
On the other hand, Novus Medical Detox Center has developed fast and effective medical protocols for treating methadone dependence, even at daily dosages of 150mg to 300mg or more. Not only is detox accomplished in only 7 to 14 days, patients go home off all drugs and fully prepared to take their next step towards a drug-free life. And they can accomplish all this in only one to two weeks at Novus.
Here’s a quick picture of the Novus safer, more comfortable higher dosage methadone detox program:
- After you arrive, your full situation – personal needs, medical, drug history etc. – is fully assessed
- A unique taper program is designed for you by the medical staff
- Medications help control the pain of withdrawal
- Daily IVs of vitamins, special nutrients and amino acids build your strength and also help ease withdrawal
- Natural supplements every day also help you feel much better
- Choose a private or a shared room, both come with flat screen TV and WiFi
- Patients rave about our delicious and nutritional food
- You’re not locked into any schedules, groups sessions are entirely optional, and one-on-ones with staff experts are always available
- Your taper is adjusted to ensure the most comfortable withdraw based on your individual metabolism
- Within 10 to 14 days you’re off all drugs
- We help you choose an after-care program that really works for you
- We provide complete directions on how to stay healthy using the special nutritional supplements we supply for you after you get home.
If you or someone you care for is trapped by higher dosages of methadone, don’t hesitate to call a Novus advisor today at 1-866-596-7313 and get all your methadone detox questions answered.
Statistics reveal that deaths across America from methadone are much higher – “substantially higher” is the official terminology – than from all other opioids, including street drugs and prescription drugs. Although methadone detox programs have helped many people recover from dependence and avoid fatal overdoses, thousands of others haven’t been so fortunate.
Look at these numbers:
- In 1999, roughly 800 people died from methadone toxicity
- In 2008, just nine years later, that number exploded to 4,900 – a 600 percent increase.
- Prescribing methadone for chronic pain
- Prescribing methadone as a “treatment” for opioid addiction
In both practices – treating chronic pain and treating addiction – the dangerous characteristics of methadone have been well known. So if the dangers were known, what happened?
Some of the answers are contained in the new, updated “Clinical Practice Guideline on Methadone Safety” just published by the American Pain Society (APS). This detailed document was prepared by dozens of experts after reviewing more than 3,700 scientific abstracts. It appears that medical training simply skipped a lot of really necessary data that could have prevented the methadone catastrophe.
The purpose of the Guide is “to provide evidence-based recommendations for use of methadone in persons of all ages for treatment of chronic pain in primary care or specialty settings, or for use in licensed opioid addiction treatment programs.” In other words, try to figure out what went wrong and make sure it doesn’t keep happening in the future.
Here are some major recommendations:
- A thorough patient history, review of medical records, electrocardiogram and physical exam is essential before starting methadone treatment
- Clinicians should counsel patients about the potential risks for methadone to affect heart rhythm and depress breathing
- Clinicians should consider buprenorphine as an alternative to methadone for opioid addiction patients with certain heart rhythm problems
- Methadone should be started at the lowest possible dose and increased very slowly
- Patients treated for opioid addiction should undergo urine drug testing before starting methadone and at regular intervals during treatment
The good news is that “measures can be taken to promote safer use of methadone”, says the APS. We can only hope that these recommendations will be adopted by the thousands of state and local health agencies involved and that the methadone death toll will begin to fall.
Of course, for the tens of thousands of American families who have already lost loved ones to poorly managed methadone treatment, these guidelines are too late, as much as a decade too late.
These heartbreaking death statistics are a lot more than just numbers. These were moms, dads, sons and daughters, grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts. These were real people with hopes and dreams and families and careers. They are gone, in large part, because of a careless system that skipped vital safety practices in favor of the quickest, cheapest fix possible.
Here at Novus, our job isn’t to correct this terribly flawed system. But we do have a suggestion for those countless thousands of people already dependent on methadone, or who are opioid dependent and thinking of starting a methadone replacement program. There is a better, more sensible solution.
Novus is reversing the skyrocketing methadone addictions and deaths. And we do this by delivering the most comfortable, most effective methadone detox programs in the country – even for the highest methadone dosage users. Novus gets people back home and back to their lives, drug free, in almost no time at all – that is, compared to the eternity of the alternative.
Call Novus today. We help people create new futures.
A nationwide survey has found that new heroin users today are a very different group from the traditional beginners a couple of decades ago.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis say that, in the past, heroin was a drug that introduced people to narcotics. Back in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, more than 80 percent were inner-city, disadvantaged male minorities who began using heroin at around 16 year old.
Today, more than 90 percent of new heroin users are young white adults from middle-class homes in suburban and even rural areas, and they’re already hooked on opiates – prescription painkillers. At 23 years old, they’re significantly older than the traditional teenager from the inner city, and even though they may have started out wealthier, their pill-popping habits have dried up their resources. They are switching to heroin simply because their OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin dependencies have become way too expensive.
The researchers gathered data from more than 150 drug treatment centers across the country. From 2010 to 2013, more than 9,000 opiate-dependent patients completed surveys, and nearly a third of them reported that heroin was their primary drug of abuse.
There were three key factors for choosing heroin:
- Accessibility – it’s everywhere and very low cost
- Enjoyment of the high
- Ease of use, whether smoked, snorted or injected
Another factor that increased the switch to heroin was the reformulation in 2010 of OxyContin, to make it harder to crush the pills to powder to snort or dissolve and inject it. Before long, the original OxyContin reached $1 a milligram on the street – $80 for a single 80mg tablet – and countless thousands of OxyContin addicts turned to heroin, only $10 for an equivalent high. (Pictured at right, Asian brown and white heroin. Source: DEA).
“If you make abuse-deterrent formulations of these drugs and make it harder to get high, these people aren’t just going to stop using drugs,” said principal investigator Theodore J. Cicero, PhD, a professor of neuropharmacology. “As we made it more difficult to use one drug, people simply migrated to another. Policymakers weren’t ready for that, and we certainly didn’t anticipate a shift to heroin.”
But that’s the way the ball bounced, and today heroin is at or soon will be a major epidemic in every state in the country. Several state governors and chiefs of law enforcement have already officially declared heroin epidemics in their areas.
“Our earlier studies showed that people taking prescription painkillers thought of themselves as different from those who used heroin,” Cicero said. “We heard over and over again, ‘At least I’m not taking heroin.’ Obviously, that’s changed.”
People may be surprised that a common street drug like heroin has become so acceptable in suburban and rural settings, Cicero said, adding that further studies “may shine light on the problem.”
“The overdose deaths and hospitalizations are symptoms of a problem that we really need to deal with,” he said. “You can’t effectively treat people or prevent addiction unless you know why they are taking drugs, and we don’t really have a handle on that yet. Unfortunately, the problem with heroin is it’s the most powerful opiate ever created, and even if people think they are being careful, it can kill.”
Here at Novus Medical Detox Center, we’re fully aware of the increase in heroin addiction, heroin overdoses, and the need for better heroin detox across the country. The Novus medical heroin detox protocols include an individually designed program, 24/7 medical supervision in a comfortable, home-like environment with great food, special IV’s that hydrate and replace essential nutrients, natural herbs and supplements and effective medications as needed.
If you or anyone you care about is suffering from a heroin dependence, or dependence on any prescription opiate painkillers, call Novus right away, and get all your questions answered.
Have you noticed any change in the behavior of your doctor lately? Or any of his staff? If you answered “Yes” you might be looking at some side effects of prescription drug abuse, dependence or addiction.
USA Today has published the results of a nationwide survey that found at least 100,000 medical professionals a year are trapped by prescription drug abuse and addiction. And their study supports an earlier one by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) from back in 2007. In that study, at least 103,000 medical personnel across the country were found to be addicted to, or abusing, prescription drugs.
Drug dependence is an unfortunate situation for doctors, nurses and other public and private medical personnel. But it’s very bad news for patients. Medical personnel told USA Today that patients treated by drugged personnel are “lucky” to escape harm. They admitted treating patients while impaired, and only hoped they hadn’t caused any harm – they were too stoned to know for sure.
Countless lawsuits by patients claiming to have been harmed by medical errors are part of the public record. And many errors have been traced to poor judgment due to prescription drug abuse.
Three infamous cases caused by medical technicians involved infecting patients with the hepatitis C virus. In separate hospitals, unknown to each other, these technicians were already infected with hepatitis C. They were all addicted to prescription painkillers themselves, like hydrocodone or oxycodone. And like most addicts, they would go to any lengths to support their habit.
So what did they do? This is almost unbelievable. They stole syringes loaded with narcotic painkillers intended for patients, and injected the drugs into themselves. But then, they refilled the syringes with saline – the syringes now contaminated with their own hep-C-infected blood – and put them back on the patients’ trays.
One of the addicts, a travelling cardiac technician, was recently sentenced to 39 years in prison in a federal New Hampshire court for infecting dozens of patients in four hospitals with his own hep-C infection. David Kwiatkowski, a former lab technician at Exeter Hospital in NH, had already been fired from four previous med tech jobs for drug use and theft. Federal investigators have so far identified 46 patients in New Hampshire, Maryland, Kansas and Pennsylvania infected with the same hep-C strain he carries.
How many patients in all have been put at risk like this? No one knows, but according to ongoing investigations, it’s dozens and dozens.
This situation of drug-impaired medical care isn’t news in the medical community. Or to malpractice insurers and lawyers. But it’s been hushed up as far as the public goes, until now. The USA Today series is still reverberating.
The paper reported that far from enough is being done to solve the problem, even though drug abuse and patient risks are well known in clinics and hospitals.
Most hospitals and clinics have poor security for their drug supplies – no closed-circuit video and inadequate computerized tracking systems – so almost anyone can easily get their hands on drugs. No state yet requires medical personnel to undergo drug testing. And when someone is actually caught stealing drugs, disciplinary action is rarely taken.
SAMHSA says one out of every 10 medical practitioners in America will abuse drugs or alcohol at some point in their career. That leaves a pretty high risk of exposure to possibly dangerous medical care for patients everywhere.
It may sound like a hopeless situation. But we can make a difference. We need to stay vigilant and not be afraid to speak up and question the actions of medical personnel when something seems fishy.
And this is really important. If you know a medical worker who needs help with a drug problem, you need to call Novus right now. Prescription drug abuse can be treated, and it starts with safe and effective medical prescription drug detox, like that offered here at Novus Medical Detox Center.
Categories: Prescription Drug Addiction Detox
A few weeks ago, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declared opiate addiction a “public health emergency” in the state. He created a task force to study the situation and come back with some effective recommendations. And that’s just what the task force has done.
Patrick wasn’t paying political lip-service to the problem, either. The governor has “put the money where his mouth is” by immediately accepting the recommendations and allocating $20 million to jump start at least two dozen new addiction treatment programs across the state. And the initiatives are aimed at the right target – prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services directly for those who need it – addicts.
Among many the new initiatives are:
- $4 million on new residential treatment programs for adolescents, young adults, families with children, and two special programs that will give priority to Latinos.
- $3 million on new treatment initiatives for inmates, including Vivitrol (naltrexone), a drug that blocks the effects of opiates.
- Enhancements to increase the effectiveness of the state’s electronic prescription monitoring program.
- New regional walk-in assessment centers, staffed by professionals who can assess and advise anyone who stops by with info on appropriate, ongoing support groups.
- A new direct-line 800 number for anyone who decides to check into a detox or rehab program. The caller receives a list of appropriate locations statewide that have openings right now, to help addicts avoid waiting once they’ve made that crucial decision.
- Five new community-based treatment programs that provide home-based counseling, bringing the total in the state to 12.
- Finding for a fifth “recovery high school” — there are four in the state already, and this one will be in Worcester.
- Funding to expand an effective family support program called Learn to Cope.
- Improved educational campaigns aimed especially at younger people are also on the agenda.
Gov. Patrick said he would like to see a New England-wide plan to reduce opiate abuse. He intends to discuss the idea with fellow governors in mid-June. Patrick said he would like to see a joint education campaign, and multi-state law enforcement collaboration to help reduce opiates available in the region. He also would like to initiate a system of sharing open treatment beds, to help reduce waiting periods when local beds aren’t immediately available. Once an addict has decided to get clean, waiting can often lead to a change of heart and a return to drugs.
As for beefed-up education campaigns, Dr. Barbara Herbert, chief of addiction services at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and a member of the task force, said any new campaign won’t use “the same old ‘just say no to drugs’” idea.
“We have to bring a different critical lens to the kind of education that we do,” Herbert said. “Fundamentally this disease is not about drugs, it’s not about substance, it’s about the disease itself. It’s about what’s going on inside people that we need to help heal.”
Officials in numerous other states have also gone on record recently calling for decisive action to slow the opiate addiction epidemic in their regions. But Massachusetts, by putting all these resources into play so quickly, is definitely leading the way in the Northeast.
Here at Novus, our patients have made the decision to become free of drugs and reclaim their lives. They come to Novus from far and wide because we have pioneered new medical opiate / opioid detox protocols which make withdrawal safe, more effective and much more comfortable. If you or anyone you care for has a problem with opiates or opioids, please call Novus and let us help you plan for a better future.